(b 1919 Klinock, S Russia)
The following account is a companion to the journey diary entries made by Margaret’s father, Peter A. Riediger about the journey in 1926.
My Own Memories of the Trip
From time to time someone asks me, “Do you remember anything about the trip?” Yes, a few things, although I was only six years old. Here are some of the scenes that have stayed fresh and clear in my memory all these years
- We left Klinock on a beautiful July morning. The wagons loaded high with boxes, crates and straw suitcases and some of us seated on top of all this. While the wagons moved slowly down the street, a lady came hurrying after us, crying. When she reached our wagon she laid both arms on the end of the wagon, put her head on her arms and cried and cried as she slowly kept in step with our wagon.
- Now we are in a city. Mother and I were walking down the sidewalk when we saw a man lying in the gutter close to the sidewalk. I was frightened. Somewhere I had heard that when a person drinks alcohol he burns up inside. I was sure I could see smoke coming from his swollen face. Quickly I scurried around to mother’s left side and hid in the folds of her skirt. Quietly she said, “Mosted nich chiche.” (You mustn’t look).
- The next scene is on a ship. Another little girl and I were skipping and running around merrily on the deck until I fell and scraped my knee. I must have cried for the other little girl got scared and ran away. As I stood there crying I saw two ladies sitting on deck chairs or benches not far away with their knees covered with plaid blankets. The one was smiling and beckoning with her finger for me to come. As I slowly came closer, she handed me a box. I hurried downstairs to our cabin and when we opened the box, we saw it was full of little chocolates. What a surprise!Sometime later a small group of us children were debating whether the ship was moving or not. There was water all around us. It seemed we weren’t going anywhere. So we took the box, which was empty now, and we made an experiment. We decided to throw the box overboard, and if it stayed behind us, then we would know if the ship was moving. So we threw the box as far as we could and watched – and chattered. It’s moving! No, it’s not! The box was riding the waves right alongside the ship, so it wasn’t moving. We had watched the box so intently that we didn’t notice that it was slowly getting smaller – and finally it disappeared altogether. Hurray! The ship was moving!
- The time came when we left the ship. We walked down miles and miles of long corridors, sat on long benches, waiting and squirming. Suddenly we were in a train. I was sitting, or rather wiggling around on Mother’s lap, looking out the window. There were crowds of people near the train, but all at once two of them caught my attention. They were my two friends from the ship, the ladies who gave me the chocolates. Now they were waving to me. As they came closer to the train, the one held up a brown paper bag for me. I reached out the window and took it. Surprise! In the bag were six beautiful, golden ripe pears! How I’ve often wished in later years that I had known who those ladies were. I would have liked to write and thank them for their wonderful kindness.
- Acme, the final stop. All the other immigrant families had left the train long ago; our family of eighteen was the only family left. When we stepped out of the train we were greeted by people in black – black clothes, black hats, black beards, ladies with long dark clothing, and cars which were black. All I remember was dark, dark everything and so again I tried to hide in the folds of Mother’s skirt. I’m sure it was dark, too, but it was Mother!
All the older sisters and brothers were whisked away to various farm homes to help with the housework and farming. Mother, Dad, Susie and I were invited to come to the home of Mr. & Mrs. Wiebe, an elderly couple with grown up children. After a good meal they made a bed for Susie and me on the floor. Instead of going to sleep, we started singing the familiar Sunday School choruses such as “Goldne Abend Sonne”, “Gott ist die Liebe”, “Der Himmel 1st Blau”, etc. in two part harmony. I sang soprano and Susie, three years older, sang the alto. Now these good folks belonged to the Holdeman church, and they did not sing in harmony like we were singing now. Pretty soon we had an audience; the ladies stood around us listening, some of them crying.
This was our introduction to Canada – a warm welcome, jobs for everyone and the freedom to worship as we wanted to.
Thank You, Canada!
Last Updated 9 June 2002